SAN DIEGO ( Daily Aztec ) - San Diego State men’s basketball freshman forward Matt Mitchell calmly intercepted a pass by senior guard Jordan Johnson and drove it back down the court for a layup.
The steal and score gave the Aztecs a quick 6-0 lead, and opened up the floodgates for an 18-turnover night for the visiting Runnin’ Rebels.
“I was just trying to come out and set the tone for the game,” Mitchell said. “Set the tone that were here and we’re here to play.”
UNLV had 14 turnovers in the first half alone, and SDSU turned a resulting 20 point halftime lead into a 94-56 victory on Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena.
The 38-point margin of victory was the largest for the Aztecs (15-10, 7-7 MW) over a Mountain West Conference opponent this season, and put an end to a three-game winning streak for UNLV (19-8, 8-6 MW).
“We played forty minutes of good basketball,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “It’s a good time of year to be playing your best basketball.”
Senior guard Trey Kell (two points, six assists) said that the team takes pride in its ability to play hard defense and force turnovers.
“It is something we take pride in because to get where we want to get to we have to step our game up on that end,” Kell said. “It was a good start for us tonight.”
SDSU had four players score in double figures, led by 21 points from Mitchell, 18 points and 14 rebounds from freshman forward Jalen McDaniels, and 17 points each from senior forward Malik Pope (nine rebounds) and junior guard Max Montana (five three-pointers).